At the 10th Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

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Ten years of doing anything is typically a reason to celebrate. Whether it’s ten years of marriage, a birthday, or the tenth year of a company being in business, ten years is a seminal anniversary.

Recently, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrated its 10th anniversary in Carmel, California. Over 3,000 attendees had the opportunity to ogle over 350 amazing motorcycles from many different genres.

Unlike last year, there was no need for beanies or puffy jackets, as the weather was significantly warmer and the crowd was a lot more comfortable.

And though this was the 10th anniversary of the event, there wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the milestone. But maybe that’s what makes the Quail special. Amazing, while remaining low-keyed. Dazzling, without making a spectacle of itself. In a word, elegant.

Besides celebrating the Quail’s 10th anniversary, the show also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Ducati Monster. Ducati had a separate area setup for Ducatisti, with Ducati North America CEO Jason Chinnock in attendance.

Lots of beautiful examples of the Monster were present and there was a complete history of the Monster available for perusal in the Ducati tent.

It was very obvious what a significant impact Miguel Galluzzi’s simple, yet beautiful design had on the world of motorcycling. Pretty good for something that started as a parts bin special.

Of course, the Quail isn’t only about motorcycles, but is also about the people who make our sport great. This year’s event celebrated “Legend of the Sport” Arlen Ness. Ness’ son Cory and grandson Zach were also in attendance.

All three joined Quail Director of Motorsports, Gordon McCall and Wayne Carini of TV’s Chasing Classic Cars, on stage for an interview.

Unlike the belligerent gang from Orange County Choppers, it was nice to see three generations of family members talk about how well they work together, whether when designing bikes or building their custom accessory business.

Though their designs aren’t always my cup of tea, I really appreciated how well the Ness Family has worked together, and their obvious respect for each other. They’ve built an empire from humble beginnings without losing their sense of humility.

Other featured classes for this year’s event included electric motorcycles and café’ racers. Over 40 motorcycles were entered in the café racer category, while the electric category garnered a more meager 9 entrants.

The café class included lots of BMWs, Hondas, Triumphs and Nortons. The class still is very popular, even though the café craze seems to have died down a bit.

The electric class, though small, held some interesting entrants including a 1974 Corbin Bonneville Streamliner. It’s amazing to see how far battery technology has come in the past 44 years.

The Corbin’s batteries were immense! When placed side by side with the Energica Ego GP bike that was on display, it was illuminating to see how far battery technology has come.

The electric buzz at the Quail continued with the introduction of the 2020 Curtiss Zeus. With obvious design elements from its Confederate Motorcycle roots and a claimed 290 lb ft of torque and 170hp, the Zeus was quite a popular bike with show-goers. It even won the Innovation Award for the event.

This year’s show had a different layout than past shows, with the dining areas consolidated and moved to the center-right of the show and the main stage moved from the area behind the lodge to the center-left of the show.

With the large crowd, the dining area quickly ran out of seats, but hey, it’s a golf course with lots of soft green grass on which to sit. Picnics are never a bad thing, right?

As I wandered around the show, one of the things that occurred to me was how different the demographics of the Quail are from other motorcycle shows around the country.

The One Show, Outliers Guild, and Handbuilt Show all cater to a younger, and in many cases, hipper audience. The Quail, on the other hand, caters to a well-heeled, but older crowd.

The Quail is a judged show, and towards the end of the day, the judging panel gathered on-stage for a group photo.

Few of the judges were under the age of 60 and many were older. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but the duty of any leader is to build the next generation of leaders, or in this case, judges.

It would be great if the Quail started training the next generation of judges in order to keep this event thriving. Maybe 30% of the judges should be from the younger community?

There are so many great young builders and motorcycle enthusiasts who could join the judges’ team to learn the tricks of the trade and ensure the future of this great event.

One of the things I enjoy most about this show is the laid back nature of the event and the opportunity to chat with the builders and restorers.

Speaking with Hugo Eccles of Untitled Motorcycles, Mark Atkinson of Speed of Cheese Racing or Dennis Hodges of DK Designs is a treat, and I always learn a lot about motorcycles and design in general from them.

Besides pros, like those mentioned above, it was heartening to see how many amateur builders had amazing bikes in the show as well. Most of their builds took at least a year and it was obvious what a labor of love these machines were for them.

In the end, there had to be a big winner for the show, and this year, it was the 1913 Flying Merkel Twin owned by Douglas & Marian McKenzie.

It was great to hear the story of how this bike had been in and out of the McKenzie’s life a couple of times before coming home to stay. It’s a great machine with a great story!

As always, the 2018 Quail Motorcycle Gathering was a great show. Ten years of refinement have led to a show that is interesting, visually exciting, and unique from other shows around the country.

Next year’s Quail is scheduled for May 4th of 2019. I’m already blocking my calendar!

Quail Award Winners for 2018:

Best of Show: 1913 Flying Merkel Twin – Douglas & Marian McKenzie

Spirit of the Quail Award: 1920 Indian Streamliner – Clyde Crouch

25th Anniversary of the Ducati Monster Award: 2010 Ducati Monster – Isaac Villanueva

Café Racers Award: 1961 BSA DBD-34 Gold Star – Craig Steggall

Electric Motorcycles Award: 1974 Corbin Bonneville Partial Streamliner Salt Racer – Mike Corbin

Industry Award: 1960 Harley-Davidson Super 10 – Jackson Burrows

Innovation Award: 2020 Curtiss Zeus – Curtiss Motorcycles

Design and Style Award: 1968 Ducati 250 Narrow Case – Analog Motorcycles

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Heritage Award: 1971 Honda CT-70 – Steve Mast

HVA Preservation Award: 1920 Indian Streamliner – Clyde Crouch

Significance in Racing Award: 1981 Freddie Spencer’s Factory Honda Racing NS-750 Flat Tracker – Anthony Giammanco

Why We Ride Award: 1970 Indian Little Indian – Clive Belvoir

Extraordinary Bicycles/Scooter Award: 1969 Lambretta Vega – Siobhan Ellis

Antique 1st Place: 1913 Flying Merkel Twin – Douglas & Marian McKenzie

American 1st Place: 1954 Harley-Davidson ST165 – Dan Derby

British 1st Place: 1953 BSA BD-1 Bantam – Craig Steggall

Italian 1st Place: 1956 Moto Guzzi Cardellino – Vincent Schardt

Japanese 1st Place: 1972 Honda CB750 K2 – Clay Baker

Other European 1st Place: 1974 BMW R90S – Mike Maloney

Competition On-Road 1st Place: 1980 Honda CB750F – Kevin McKee

Competition Off-Road 1st Place: 1956 BSA BB34R Flat Tracker – Chris Carter

Custom/Modified 1st Place: 1960 Harley-Davidson Super 10 – Jackson Burrows

Photos: © 2018 Andrew Kohn / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved